Summer can be a dangerous time of year for those over the age of 50 and living with heart disease, according to the American Heart Association(1).
The combination of excessive heat and people spending more time outdoors exercising when they’ve been sedentary for the colder months can be a dangerous combination.
But not all summer activities are associated with risk – in fact, here are some heart-healthy things to do this summer that could help lower your risk of heart disease or heart attack.
1. Eat Dates And Drink Pomegranate Juice
They’re more than just tasty snacks – according to Israeli researchers, half a glass of pomegranate juice paired with three dates a day can help prevent plaque from building up in your arteries(2).
Researchers believe that the combination of polyphenolic antioxidants in pomegranates and phenolic radical scavenger antioxidants in dates is what helps clear the arteries.
2. Eat More Nuts
“Peanuts are a healthy snack when eaten as part of a healthy diet,” said researcher Xiaorah Liu. According to her research with the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, peanuts – which many people avoid because they’re so high in fat – can actually help promote heart health(3).
3. Practice Mindfulness And Find Your Purpose
People with a sense of having a greater purpose in life may actually have a lower risk of heart disease or stroke, according to researchers at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai Roosevelt(4).
“Developing and refining your sense of purpose could protect your heart health and potentially save your life,” lead study author Randy Cohen said in a press release.
4. Eat Less Meat
Going vegetarian can have plenty of health benefits when done right, but if you just can’t stand the thought of giving up meat, even cutting down can lower your risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association(5).
5. Adopt The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet, a diet which focuses on healthy fats, plenty of vegetables, and lean proteins like fish has been shown to promote cardiovascular health in a big way(6).
6. Take Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements
If you’ve already suffered a heart attack or have a history of heart disease, omega-3 fatty acids might be extra important for you, according to research published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance(7).
Researchers found that prescription omega-3 fatty acid supplements improved heart function and led to less scarring in heart tissue for people with a history of heart disease.
7. Get Plenty Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with heart disease, as well as with other chronic and age-related diseases(8). You can get vitamin D from your diet and from spending plenty of time in the sun.
8. Stop With The Energy Drinks
Energy drinks can actually raise your resting blood pressure, putting you at greater risk for heart attack, according to the Mayo Clinic(9).
“Concerns about the health safety of energy drinks have been raised,” said Dr. Anna Svatikova for the Mayo clinic.
“Consumers should use caution when using energy drinks because they may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, even among young people.”
9. Practice Gratitude
It might sound a little corny, but according to the journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice, gratefulness can actually strengthen your heart.
“We found that more gratitude in these patients was associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue, and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers related to cardiac health,” said Paul Mills, lead author on the study(10).
10. Get Some Fresh Air
Pollution can damage your heart, according to research from the NYU Langone Medical Center(11), so take some time to get out of the city this summer and get some fresh air that’s actually fresh.